PICTURED: A landscape by Norman Kirk. Photo courtesy of Buenaventura Art Association

by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer


Norman Kirk: 1924-2021

Renowned watercolor painter and beloved Ventura College teacher Norman Kirk passed away on Jan. 15 at the age of 96. 

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on Feb. 20, 1924, Kirk served in the U.S. Army, fighting in the Philippines during World War II. He was in California at the time of his discharge and lived in Los Angeles, studying at the Los Angeles Art Center School of Design, UCLA and Chouinards before moving to Ventura County in the 1970s.

Watercolorist, art teacher and Buenaventura Art Association member Norman Kirk passed away on Jan. 15, 2021. Photo courtesy of Buenaventura Art Association

Kirk taught watercolor painting at Ventura College, and exhibited his work —  much of which featured Ventura County landscapes — across the country. He was also a longstanding member of the Buenaventura Art Association, which he joined in 1980 and which named him an Honorary Lifetime Member in 2015. Starting in 2016, the BAA’s top award for its Annual Watercolor and Aqua Media Open Competition was renamed the Norman Kirk Best in Show Award in his honor. He was also an esteemed member of the National Watercolor Society, Watercolor West and the Gold Coast watercolor Society.

Kirk was documented by Focus on the Masters in 1998 and his last public exhibition took place at the Ojai Art Center in October 2019.

“We will miss Norman Kirk greatly and offer our sincerest condolences to his friends and loved ones,” the BAA said via press statement. 

April 1 deadline for “Post”-Pandemic Mail Art

The ARTLIFE Foundation, which honors the legacy of legendary artist Joe Cardella, is currently accepting submissions for its 2021 Mail Art project. Work will be displayed both online and in various galleries throughout Ventura for several weeks, culminating with an exhibition in a single gallery to close the exhibit. Deadline for submissions is April 1.

The show is open to artists from across the globe, and any media or format will be accepted. Art does, however, have to be mailed in as a 6-inch-by-9-inch postcard or in a 6-inch-by-9-inch envelope. Artists may submit up to four pieces; all must be mailed separately. Work of students in a class may be submitted in a single envelope. Mail submissions to ARTLIFE Foundation, P.O. Box 23020, Ventura, CA, 93002.

There is no fee or jury, but any artwork received is considered donated to the ARTLIFE Foundation and will not be returned. All artwork will be displayed, although the foundation reserves the right to exclude work with inappropriate content.

Participants will receive a digital art image from an ARTLIFE Limited Edition, the mail art publication Cardella published 1981-2006.

The “Post”-Pandemic Mail Art Exhibit opens April 15. For more information, visit joecardellalegacy.blogspot.com.

“Invasive Species Detective” Youth Art Contest

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced its eighth annual California Invasive Species Youth Art Contest.

Be A Habitat Hero” – 2020 Invasive Species Program Choice Award Winner by Ava McQuain

The contest is open to students in grades 2-12, with separate divisions for grades 2-4, 5-8 and 9-12. The top three winners in each division will receive awards and have their entries announced on CDFW’s Facebook page. All types of media are welcome, including drawings, paintings, animation, comic strips, videos and public service announcements. Deadline for submission is May 5.

The contest is offered by CDFW’s Invasive Species Program as part of California Invasive Species Action Week, which takes place June 5-13. The goal is to increase public awareness of invasive species and their impacts on natural resources in California’s wildlands and waterways.

The theme for 2021 is “Be An Invasive Species Detective,” and students are encouraged to think about how paying attention to their surroundings can protect against the spread of invasive species. 

“Detectives look for clues and use observation to solve crimes,” said Elizabeth Brusati, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Invasive Species Program. “We want young people to look for ways to stop the spread of invasive species. Helpful actions could include choosing native plants for landscaping, not releasing unwanted pets into the wild, reporting invasive species sightings, and taking precautions to clean, drain and dry gear after visiting waterbodies.”

Completed entries and entry forms must be submitted electronically. For forms, submission guidelines and more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Action-Week.

Ojai Film Festival accepting submissions

The 2021 Ojai Film Festival (OFF) is slated to take place Nov. 4-14, and organizers are currently accepting film submissions for feature-length and short films as well as screenplays. Deadlines and entry fees are as follows:

Film submissions:

Early deadline (April 1): Features $35, Shorts $30

Regular deadline (May 1): Features $45, Shorts $40

Late deadline (June 1): Features $55, Shorts $50

Extended Deadline (July 1): Features $65, Shorts $60

Screenplay submissions:

Early deadline (March 31): $25/$20 Students

Regular deadline (April 30): $35/$25 Students

Late deadline (May 31): $45/$35 Students

Extended deadline (June 30): $55/$45 Students

OFF participants come away with more than bragging rights. There’s the potential to win prizes, such as a Panavision camera rental package (worth $60,000). In addition, OFF films often go on to greater things. Fifteen alumni have received Academy Award nominations, two won an Oscar and several more went on to gain distribution. In 2020 alone, three films screened at OFF made it to the short list for Oscar consideration.

“Our festival provides a valuable service to filmmakers,” Artistic Director Steve Grumette said via email. “We give them access to a highly appreciative audience, including film industry professionals who can help guide their careers.”

Accepted entries will be notified by mid-August. The 2021 OFF is expected to be a mix of physical in-theater experiences and online accessibility. Viewers of 2020 virtual screenings came from across the United States and the world, and OFF is hoping to see the same for 2021.

For more information on the Ojai Film Festival, including submission guidelines, visit ojaifilmfestival.com/entries.

CIMM sponsors eco-boat contest

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, the Channel Islands Maritime Museum (CIMM) is holding a contest focused on miniature “eco-boats” made with recyclable or compostable materials. Entries should be no larger than 24 inches in length. Winning entries will be chosen based on the most creative use of materials.

Wood, paper, glass, aluminum, cardboard and plant fibers (including cotton fabric, canvas, hemp, non-nylon rope, etc.) are all acceptable materials. Plastics and foams may not be used in the construction of boats. 

Prizes will be awarded in four age categories: Adults (18 years and older), Young Adults (13-17 years of age), Kids (7-12 years of age) and Kids (6 years and under).

“Being located on the water, CIMM is always looking at how it can do its part in helping to protect the ecology and health of the ocean we all share,” says CIMM Executive Director Adri Howe. “Plastics and microplastics, which are the byproduct of plastic breaking into smaller particles, have become more and more problematic as they are everywhere and large quantities of them pass unchanged through waterways into the ocean. . . . It still all comes down to the environmental basics – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We hope to share this message through this fun and educational boat-building contest.”

Eco-boat entries may be dropped off April 1-30 at the museum, located at 3900 Bluefin Circle in Oxnard, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Include a piece of paper with name, age category, email address, phone number and a list of materials used in the entry. Entrants may also include the boat’s name and a short description of the building experience or goals. All entries must be received by April 30.

For more information, visit cimmvc.org.

2021 Congressional Art Competition opens

The office of U.S. Representative Mike Garcia (R-Dist. 25) is currently accepting submissions for the annual Congressional Art Competition. Deadline for submission is Friday, April 23.

High school students across the 25th district (which encompasses northern Los Angeles County and part of eastern Ventura County, including most of Simi Valley) are invited to participate in the annual competition. The first-place artist will have their artwork displayed in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol Building for one year beginning in May. There it will be seen by members of Congress as well as visitors from around the world.

“This is my first time hosting this competition as a Member of Congress and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see what the creative students from California’s 25th District come up with,” stated Garcia on his website.

To enter, students must submit their two-dimensional artwork (paintings, drawings, collage, prints, computer-generated art, photographs and mixed media) and the student release form to one of Garcia’s district offices by Friday, April 23. 

For forms, rules, submission guidelines and more information, visit mikegarcia.house.gov/forms/submitartwork. Direct questions to Chelsea Orzechowski at 661-568-4855 or Chelsea.Orzechowski@mail.house.gov with “Congressional Art Competition 2021” in the subject line.